Currently, the Criminal Code of Canada makes it unlawful to profit from operating a gaming house, where 'game' is defined as a 'game of chance or mixed chance and skill', and has repeatedly been used in response to poker operators who collect a 'rake' from the games. Though the US Federal Court decision has no legal bearing on Canadian law or its enforcement, interested poker advocates may rely on the detailed reasoning from this case to effect legislative change, or use it as grounds for the defence of a criminal charge.
Although the US Federal Court decision has not immediately made any drastic changes to the operation of gaming businesses in the United States, whether live or over the internet, there are distinct possibilities that such decisions are the start of a less regulated, and potentially decriminalized, poker industry. Online poker continues to be alive and well, notwithstanding the US government’s best efforts to keep such activity out of the United States. As PokerStars returns to its full operations after settling the civil action brought by the US Department of Justice, a further influx of poker businesses may be on the rise.
By Javad Heydary is Managing Director of Heydary Hayes PC (www.ITlawyers.ca). He regularly advises clients on online gaming issues and complex regulatory and litigation matters.